Life is slowly returning to normal. I’ve done some laundry, made a slight dent in the emails/voicemails/snail mail that arrived and remained ignored during Faircation, and slept. I’ve slept quite a bit. Ahhh.
As I lie here on the couch with an ice pack on my swollen-but-improving knee and sipping a fruit smoothie featuring fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, and pineapple juice, I’m pondering some reflections about Fair 2016.
I’m not supposed to have a job
This year’s Fair was truly and sincerely so much fun. I hadn’t really realized how writing for the newspaper was slowly siphoning away the joy and carefree wonder of My Fair until I ditched my travel laptop and mobile hotspot.
Don’t get me wrong – I had an absolute blast in the beginning of my newspaper gig a few years ago. But it slowly became work as I tried to think like a reporter. Please note: I am not one.
Instead of looking for angles and stories and keeping track of how many uploads I had done for the day, this year I simply went to the Fair. I didn’t repeatedly consult the schedule, I didn’t have a daily plan, I didn’t have a constant awareness of what time it was, I didn’t take notes.
I stashed my little notebook and pen in my Fair Swag Bag the first day. After three days of Fairing and not putting either to use, they spent the rest of the Fair on my kitchen table. When I think about it now, it should have been a sign that I was not Fairing well when my supplies included a notepad. Seriously, who takes notes at a Fair unless they are being paid?
Not taking notes changed my approach to writing, too. Instead of trying to make sure I noted and captured every moment and activity of The Fair for blogging reference that night, I just let the stuff that impacted me naturally rise to the surface of each day's story.
For instance, we thoroughly enjoyed watching pigs race and dogs jump any number of times but I never really wrote about them. At first I felt like I wasn't being complete, but soon I realized it was totally ok. It finally occurred to me that if I didn’t think to write about something, there really wasn't much to be said about it. To try to document it out of some self-imposed sense of obligation would have been forced and boring. At least for me and probably for you.
Ditching my notepad and simply writing about what I remembered brought back a joy and freedom that I didn’t know I had lost.
Rob commented several times this Fair how much he enjoyed having his wife back. The wife that is wided-eyed and relaxed and kid-like at The Fair. A brother noted that my smile in the endless photos this year was bigger and happier and more natural. Yes, there was mounting exhaustion in my eyes but it was always tempered by joy.
And I had no idea.
I am soooo grateful for the little voice in my heart last year that told me my time with the newspaper was over, and for Rob’s gentle but consistent reinforcement the past several months. And that I finally listened to both.
The sugar helped but not quite enough
Back around Memorial Day, Rob decided to give up drinking soft drinks. It was a pretty monumental decision because there’s really not much else other than wine that he enjoys drinking. And replacing his diet soda habit with wine would have led to a whole other set of issues.
So Rob has been reluctantly learning how to like water. I’m very proud of him that other than one unanticipatedly icky sweet sip of a Sprite several weeks ago, Rob has not given into temptations to return to his old drinking ways.
I gave up drinking soft drinks several years ago, although I do allow myself the indulgence occasionally. And always always always at the Fair. In fact, drinking Coke and root beer during the Fair is one of the many things I look forward to.
But this year, in solidarity and support of Rob’s new water habit, neither of us had any soft drinks while Fairing. What I realized on about the 4th day is this also meant no caffeine while Fairing. I hadn’t realized how critical caffeine was to my Fair experience until it was gone. Oooh, doggies, could we have used some energy boosting! But we both did sleep better when it was finally time for bed. Go figure.
I am pleased with how well my knee did during the Fair. Mostly.
I walked more each day at the Fair than I had in any given day after my ACL surgery in April. Granted, my average of 3.2 miles per day was not all in one stretch, but it was markedly more than the typical one mile I had been walking before.
|Can you tell which days we didn't|
Fair this year?
I tried to be as smart and as careful as I could be with my Fair knee. I walked slowly, rested often, and I was mindful of the Grandstand stairs and the few hilly spots scattered around the Fairgrounds. I also carried a daily one-time-use instant ice pack. Choosing the optimal icing time was a little tricky; most often it was in the late afternoon. And often with a snack.
|Our favorite bench in the |
Big Air Conditioned Building
I discovered that the packs from Target are better than the ones from Walgreens. I also learned that although the temporary packs aren’t nearly as good as the reusable one I have at home, they did do a much better job than my first solution:
|Strawberry Mango Smasher|
Very cold but not quite enough
surface area to make a good ice pack
I was also proud of myself that I kept to my M-W-F schedule of at-home physical therapy exercises. Yes, on those particular Fair days, prior to heading to lunch and 3ish miles of walking, I had already put in about an hour of sweaty knee stretching and strengthening.
|Yep, I exercise in Crocs. Not just Crocs, special Crocs for|
people with plantar fasciitis.
So I was very focused and careful and consistent with my knee care. YAY!
But when I went to my physical therapy appointment on Monday – the first day after the Fair was over – Steve heard my confession, examined my puffy knee, and immediately grabbed the calendar to reschedule me. My knee was swollen too much to make Monday’s appointment useful. BOO!
If I’m honest and giving into my emotions, I will tell you that I’m a little nervous that I did something wrong and permanent and scary to my knee. If I listen to my rational self (also named Rob), I know that I simply worked my knee more than it was used to and of course it would react after that much walking.
It is definitely improving with the two days of rest and ice I’ve given it since Monday. So I am anxiously awaiting a thumbs up from Steve when I see him again tomorrow…hopefully for longer than 10 minutes.
The Fair inspires me in many ways
Somehow, almost every year, something happens at the Fair that prompts an online purchase.
One year there was an exhibit about music that included a display of 8-track tapes. Not long after the Fair, thanks to eBay, this bookcase décor arrived in the mail:
|It reportedly still works. I have no way of verifying that.|
Last year, after attending a “Guess Who” concert – whom I was stunned to discover was not a cover band for The Who – Rob ordered me their Greatest Hits CD. I had no idea I knew so many songs by a band I had never heard of!
This year my Fair-inspired web shopping went a little into overdrive.
I am currently awaiting two new pairs of fair-food-themed earrings for next year, along with a new sign for our kitchen that a vendor was selling at the Fair but in the wrong color. A new self-inflating seat cushion was just shipped from Las Vegas. And yesterday we picked up my BRAND NEW ELECTRIC CANNER that was shipped to a favorite sales-tax-free store in Oregon. Merry Christmas to me!!!
|Blackberry jam shall be its inaugural crop|
The name for this heady phenomena is obvious but I’m resisting
You know how at Disneyland there are kids – and some adults – who walk around wearing hats that are literally Goofy? And when you first see them they look ridiculous? But then the more people you see wearing the hats, the more they start to look normal? And then you start thinking you might need one yourself?
I am relieved to tell you I never was tempted to acquire one of these:
But man oh man, they were everywhere!
|Appropriately spotted in the sheep barn|
One day we even saw an entire family wearing matching t-shirts featuring the “smiling pile of poo” emoji (which I learned last year is not actually a happy pile of chocolate frosting).
|We decided -- and hoped -- that their last name is Brown|
I can’t say I understand this current poo fascination. Other than to wonder if there’s a sudden epidemic of anal-retentiveness. The people who had their poo hats and plushies looked quite proud and very unwilling to give them up.
My favorite poo moment was one day when we were in the carnival area. A couple of grade school boys were running around, chasing each other. One was carrying a poo. I looked at him and then looked at Rob and posed the obvious question:
He really wasn’t planning it
Rob had an extra dose of fun this year. He started a daily series of statuses on Facebook with the premise that he was kidnapped and taken to the Fair. His first post:
“Day 1: I appear to have survived the transition easily enough, though the hallucination of people eating corn-dogs while driving *into* the fairgrounds was a little disconcerting.”
And by the way, that wasn’t a hallucination.
|They both had them|
Subsequent posts commented about things like being offered “…a chewy, chocolate, doughy food…” (deep fried Oreo).
His final post – which he thought of on the final day – was pure punny brilliance.
“Day 10: I survived. I made it through the entire fair without suffering a heart attack, an animal bite, a carney bite, or an empty wallet. Quite an adventure.
But now I find myself drawn back to the fairgrounds. While I have a comfy chair, I miss sitting on metal or wood benches watching animals being shown. The air in the house is so clean, yet I now long for the smells of cattle, sheep, goats, and llamas.
I'm afraid I've developed Stock-Home Syndrome.”
If you are not familiar with the psychological condition called Stockholm Syndrome, click here to fully appreciate how hysterical and beautifully master-minded Rob’s pun is.
Good Lord, my husband cracks me up!
I so hope there is more info and blogging to come
As mentioned before…I have mentioned this before, right? I’ve mentioned this? I have made myself extraordinarily available to Princess Maddie’s mom should there be any schedule conflicts with Fair Court Duties and Mom’s Busy Schedule in the coming months.
You might imagine, then, how thrilled and delighted and hopeful I was when Maddie’s Mom let me take a peek at the tentative schedule for Princessing through next year’s Fair (starts on August 4, 2017 – mark your calendars!)!!!
The schedule is no less than three pages long, jam packed with parades and rodeos and horse shows and community events. Top of the list is Media Day, Shopping Day, and a photo shoot. How fun and Princessy is THAT?!?!
I knew the life of a Fair Court Princess was a busy one but seeing it in spreadsheet form made me more fully appreciate the commitment the girls and their families are making for the next year. I wonder if they knew they were making a three-page commitment?
A quick scan of the spreadsheet suggested a parent is required at about 90% of the appearances. I’m thinking there is a really good chance I might be able to tag along a time or two as Giddy Fair Court Mom In Waiting. And I hope…SO DEEPLY HOPE…I get permission to blog about it. Stay tuned!
SO FREAKING EXCITED!!!
Anyone else remember Larry Groce?
Some very kind people occasionally comment how surprisingly not unattractive the photos are that Rob captures of me eating. And I get it – seeing someone eat is typically not something you want to watch or see pictures of.
I always explain that Rob takes several photos for me to choose from, plus we have quite a bit of practice working together.
Nevertheless, I thought I would end this year’s Fair Blogs with a little video I made of some of the photos I chose not to use. You’re welcome and I'm sorry.
Thank you all SO MUCH for joining me at The Fair this year! I truly, sincerely, honestly had a blast. Hopefully that was obvious.
Woodhaven Ramblings will now return to whatever topics strike me to ramble about. For about 350 days. And then it will be All Fair All The Time again!
Be sure to have your volume on